Toi Derricotte is the author The Undertaker’s Daughter and four previous poetry collections: The Empress of the Death House; Natural Birth; Captivity; and Tender, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among other honors. Derricotte is cofounder of Cave Canem, professor emerita at the University of Pittsburgh, and a former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry
Recipient of the 2020 Frost Medal for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in Poetry
BCALA Honor Book for Best Poetry Award 2020
How do you gain access to the
power of parts of yourself you
abhor, and make them sing
with beauty, tenderness, and compassion?
This is a record of fifty years
of victories in the reclamation
of a poet’s voice.
The story of Toi Derricotte is a hero’s odyssey. It is the journey of a poetic voice that in each book earns her way to home, to her own commanding powers.
“I”: New and Selected Poems shows the reader both the closeness of the enemy and the poet’s inherent courage, inventiveness, and joy. It is a record of one woman’s response to the repressive and fracturing forces around the subjects of race, class, color, gender, and sexuality. Each poem is an act of victory, finding a path through repressive forces to speak with both beauty and truth.
This collection features more than thirty new poems as well as selections from five of Derricotte’s previously published books of poetry.
What are the forces that cause us to strike out and harm each other? Captivity explores the way in which the individual is held hostage by society; how the forces of racism, sexism, and classism frequently express themselves as violence within the family. The book also explores a deeper captivity, like the Jews in Egypt yearning for the Promised Land, the soul trapped in exile from God.